CLEVELAND -- For the first time since going on the 15-day disabled list in April, Octavio Dotel is going to pitch in an actual regulation game. And depending on how the coming weeks go, he could yet find a way to pitch his way into the Tigers' bullpen mix for October.
On the day Omar Infante began a rehab assignment for Triple-A Toledo, the Tigers announced that Dotel will finally begin a Minor League rehab stint, this one for the Tigers' Gulf Coast League team, beginning on Wednesday night in Lakeland, Fla.
Dotel pitched in some extended spring training games in preparation for a rehab assignment, only to be shut down when he experienced a flareup of the elbow inflammation that has cost him most of the season.
By rule, Dotel can rehab in the Minors for up to 30 days, which would make sense considering how much time he has missed. If the Tigers take full advantage of that, they can wait until rosters expand on Sept. 1 to activate him and not have to send down anybody to make room. Dotel would still be eligible for the postseason roster, because he was on the 25-man roster in April.
Pitching his way into the postseason is going to be the tougher maneuver. Dotel showed signs of trouble during the World Baseball Classic, struggled through Spring Training and never recovered, allowing seven runs on 10 hits over 4 2/3 innings in April before going on the DL. His fastball, which averaged better than 92 mph last year according to Fangraphs, fell under 90 mph.